Hours after signing tax bill, Trump reportedly tells friends: 'You all just got a lot richer'

President Trump is spending the Christmas holiday with his family in Florida.

According to CBS News, he reportedly told friends at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, “You all just got a lot richer.”

The outlet notes Trump made the remark Friday night, hours after he signed the massive GOP tax bill in the Oval Office.

Proponents of the bill celebrate it as relief for the middle class that also provides a tax cut based spending stimulus for large corporations.

However, critics have blasted the legislation as being a giveaway to the rich.

“The rush to enact the tax bill was designed to mask — as a break for the middle class — what is, in fact, a $1.4 trillion package of benefits for key donors and lobbyists, the richest members of Congress, President Trump, his family and other families like his,” writes Thomas Edsall in a New York Times opinion piece.




Ashes to Ascots: the Final Days of NewsOne Now With Roland Martin

The staff wrap party for the last episode of NewsOne Now with Roland Martin was not supposed to feel like it did. I walked into the staff kitchen and saw Martin in all of his fuchsia glory, smiling, ascot crisp, happily chopping it up. “What’s up, baby?” he said, then hit me with a hug like we were at Essence Fest or the Republican convention, not the last day of an award-winning TV show.

It was 10 a.m., the final show had wrapped an hour earlier, and across a series of long tables, there was a tray of eggs, biscuits, fruit and two struggle strips of bacon left by the time I got there. A meal befitting the final episode of a morning news show. Considering that NewsOne Now was going off the air after four years, and almost 30 people were going to lose jobs or have their hours cut, the room wasn’t as sad as you’d expect. In fact, it was more like a murder mystery than a funeral. Who killed NewsOne Now? 

The more people I talked to, the more obvious it became that nobody knew for sure why NewsOne Now was going off the air, but the one thing on which they did agree was that black folks were going to be the worse for it.

“I’m sure Friday I’m gonna wake up like I usually do, ready to go, and the show won’t be there. That will be different,” said Martin when we spoke on the phone two days before the final show.

On Dec. 8, TV One announced the suspension (the network has not used the word “canceled” in any official statements) of NewsOne Now with Roland Martin for budgetary reasons, and since that time, Martin has never publicly questioned the network’s stated reason.

However, Tom Joyner has called for listeners to protest the network’s decision, and the National Association of Black Journalists has called on TV One to consider the harm to the black community if the only daily African-American television news outlet in America goes silent during the Trump administration.

Fellow journalists, like T.J. Holmes, Lawrence O’Donnell, Jemele Hill and Stephen A. Smith, have all publicly expressed dismay about the decision. For his part, Martin has mostly focused on the nature of the business.

“Sometimes it’s just the fundamental economics of the cable industry; there’s only so much you can stream, and that’s where a lot of the audience is,” said Martin.

TV One reaches about 59 million homes, and NewsOne Now is the network’s highest-rated program. However, the inability to regularly stream a show that came on at 7 a.m. often made it hard to connect with some of the 25- to 45-year-old demographic that advertisers are thirsty for.

“I fundamentally believe that a show can be a success in the digital world in which we are living. Whether it’s on Facebook or Twitter or some streaming service,” Martin said, pointing out that he regularly brings in huge audiences on Facebook Live and on Periscope.

The hot takes, speculation and rumors about why NewsOne Now was suspended continue to swirl around. Martin, of course, has haters, and some legitimate critics. Was NewsOne Now really suspended for being too expensive? No one I spoke to who was associated with the show fully bought that explanation, either on or off the record. NewsOne Now was expanded from a one-hour to a two-hour program in September. If the show was hemorrhaging money, why expand it to two hours, only to “suspend” it three months later?

Was NewsOne Now suspended because of Martin himself? Was he difficult to work with, or did TV One want to relaunch with new talent? Privately, staff commented that Martin could be hard to work with at times, but as one staffer who asked to remain anonymous stated: “Yeah, he was difficult. What talent in this industry isn’t? He’s brilliant, though. Best way to deal with Roland was to do your job, do it well and push back when you need to. He respects that.”

There seemed to be a sense, both at the wrap party and among others to whom I spoke, that if the end of the show came down to the budget or Martin, it wasn’t Martin’s fault. 

No matter what the full story is behind NewsOne Now’s being suspended, everybody seems to agree that the end of America’s only daily African-American-focused news show will hurt the black community, especially now.

Even if you weren’t watching his show, the stories it touched on ended up popping up in your timeline or on your feed or got magnified by other networks. It’s one thing to pick up a story about black lives for a five-minute segment, but NewsOne Now provided daily coverage about the death of Gemmel Moore, a young gay black man in Los Angeles found dead in a wealthy Democratic donor’s home.

NewsOne Now was the only show providing daily coverage of the Daniel Holtzclaw case where the now former police officer was convicted of serially raping black women. Not to mention the show’s daily coverage of taxes, health care and elections across the nation with specific relevance to the black community. People noticed and appreciated it.

“Sandra Bland loved Roland’s show,” said Susan Henry, an executive producer at TV One. “Her mother told us that she watched his show and said she wanted to be on it one day. It’s so sad, but it meant so much to her family that Roland brought national attention to her death.”

“Roland’s show gave a lot of people a platform—scholars, researchers, activists—to talk about issues that nobody else was covering; people got on that wouldn’t have otherwise,” said Avis Jones-DeWeever, a frequent guest on the show. 

TV One has made no formal announcements about launching another daily news program. This means that for the foreseeable future there will be no daily, African-American-focused televised news show covering the upcoming 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, the 2018 midterm elections, and whatever unbelievable shenanigans Donald Trump and his minions come up with in the new year.

As for Martin himself, even if he won’t be hosting daily on TV One, he’ll still be out there. He’s on contract with TV One until August 2018 and is still in talks with the network about what he’ll be doing next year.

In the meantime, he’ll still be appearing on The Tom Joyner Morning Show, doing speeches, working on a book and tweeting about everything from the Texans to taxes.

As for the hundreds of thousands of black folks out there looking to know what’s happening in the world from an exclusively black perspective? The television may not have much to offer in 2018, unless some network out there is willing to fill some rather large fuchsia shoes.



24 Of The Most Thought-Provoking Pieces Of Writing By People Of Color In 2017

In a shocking turn of events, 2017 was even more of a dumpster fire of a year than 2016. While the political landscape burned to a crisp, actual Nazis proudly walked the streets of U.S. cities and a horrifying report on Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct ushered in a long overdue reckoning in Hollywood and beyond.

This was a year of consistent bad news, a year that (for better or worse) was rife for poignant, thought-provoking and conversation-starting commentary from writers of all backgrounds. And so, for the third year, we’ve curated a list of essays and articles that defined conversations about race, pop culture, politics and identity in 2017.

These essays and articles cover a wide array of topics, from the fascinating delusion of Rachel Dolezal to the horrors of fraternity hazing to the complexities of Donald Trump’s presidency. 

As always, the criteria for this list is simple: All pieces must have been written by a person of color and been published online within the last year. 

Like most year-end lists, this one may inspire some readers to protest or point out obvious omissions. You are encouraged to do so. It was curated with the aim of being as comprehensive as possible, but it is by no means definitive ― so comment away. 

Without further ado, here is some of the best writing from people of color in 2017:


“The First White President”

Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic

Many people consider Ta-Nehisi Coates to be one of the greatest black thinkers of our time (this, however, has been heavily debated in recent weeks), deftly examining the political and racial traumas that still plague America. In this brilliantly written essay published in October, Coates argues that “the foundation of Donald Trump’s presidency is the negation of Barack Obama’s legacy.”


Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, Elle

Missy Elliott had something of a resurgence in 2017, after an exciting performance at the Super Bowl in November and subsequent new music including the single “WTF (Where They From).” In this profile from May, essayist Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah vividly illustrates the allure and legend of Elliott. 


“What Harvey Weinstein Did To Me”

Lupita Nyong’o, The New York Times

The latter half of 2017 was a period of reckoning, as reports about allegations of sexual misconduct against powerful men including Weinstein, Louis C.K., Al Franken and Kevin Spacey helped focus attention on the #MeToo movement. Shortly after allegations against Weinstein first surfaced, actress Lupta Nyong’o published an incredibly candid and damning account of her own negative experiences with the Hollywood mogul. When Nyong’o became the only accuser whose allegations Weinstein publicly denied at the time, it shed light on the complexities of race and gender in the sexual harassment conversation. 


“Going It Alone”

Rahwah Haile, Outside Online

The tradition of excellent travel writing was alive and well in 2017. Case in point: this essay by Rahwah Haile, which explores what happens when a queer black woman hikes along the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine by herself “during a summer of bitter political upheaval.” 


Doreen St. Felix, MTV News

How do you solve a problem like Omarosa? In this piece from January, Doreen St. Felix tries to make sense of the businesswoman, reality TV star and (now-former) Trump administration staffer who stood by the president even when those in the black community vehemently criticized him.  


“My Father Spent 30 Years In Prison. Now He’s Out.”

Ashley C. Ford, Refinery29

In this poignant and deeply personal essay, Ashley C. Ford recounts the experience of reuniting with her father after his release from prison, coming to terms with his past, and navigating the “monumental task of getting to know each other.”


“Getting In And Out (Who Owns Black Pain?)”

Zadie Smith, Harper’s Magazine

Some of the most fascinating writing is work that one can truly engage with and even disagree with, as well as admire. Here, Zadie Smith weighs in on a tricky issue, pegged to the backlash against the Whitney Museum of American Art after numerous critics called out white artist Dana Schutz’s portrait of Emmett Till for appropriating black pain for profit. Smith’s essay later became the center of its own interesting debate, as she was called out for her approach to appropriation and the concept of blackness


“A Generation In Japan Faces A Lonely Death”

Norimitsu Onishi, The New York Times

This sobering report by Norimitsu Onishi unveils a hidden epidemic in Japan: Every year, thousands of elderly people die alone and unnoticed. The story behind this phenomenon is both a heartbreaking and illuminating representation of modern life. 


Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, GQ

Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah appears on this list for a second time (because she’s just that good) with one of the best pieces of writing this year, period. Ghansah takes a deep dive into the Dylann Roof trial, deconstructing the young domestic terrorist’s hateful past and investigating what went into creating him. 


“On Transgender Storytelling, David France, and the Netflix Marsha P. Johnson Documentary”

Reina Gossett, Teen Vogue

After alleging in an Instagram post that the makers of Netflix’s “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson” stole her intellectual property, filmmaker Reina Gossett expanded her thoughts on who gets to tells stories about trans women (especially trans women of color) in this article for Teen Vogue. “As [the] documentary starts to make its way to large audiences, I can’t stop thinking about the voices that have been pushed aside in the process,” Gossett writes. “Too often, people with resources who already have a platform become the ones to tell the stories of those at the margins rather than people who themselves belong to these communities.”


“What A Fraternity Hazing Death Revealed About The Painful Search for an Asian-American Identity”

Jay Kaspian Kang, The New York Times

Jay Kaspian Kang writes here about Michael Deng, an Asian-American college freshman who died as the result of a horrifying fraternity hazing ritual. This piece is an exploration of the toxic culture of fraternity hazing, but it’s also an exploration of the often undiscussed oppression of Asians in America, and how this history of oppression has led to a generation of young people grappling with who they are. 


“My Family’s Slave”

Alex Tizon, The Atlantic

Controversy and heated debate fueled the conversation surrounding this posthumously published essay by Filipino writer Alex Tizon. Tizon tells the story of Lola, a woman who raised him. She was also held by his family as a slave for 56 years. Tizon’s candid account of Lola’s life, his relationship with her, and the moral implications of her life as a slave is difficult and compelling. 


“We Need To Talk About Digital Blackface In Reaction GIFs”

Lauren Michele Jackson, Teen Vogue

It’s something that many of us never really think about: using reaction GIFs of black people. The implications of this action are deeply explored in this Teen Vogue essay that generated a lot of discussion in August. Writer Lauren Michele Jackson argues that GIF culture can unconsciously perpetuate harmful stereotypes about black people, and she explores the ways in which we can be “cognizant of what we share, how we share, and to what extent that sharing dramatizes preexisting racial formulas inherited from ‘real life.’”


“Where Millennials Come From”

Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker

Millennials are selfish, millennials are too sensitive, millennials would rather buy avocado toast than a house ― this was a big year for complaining about millennials. The New Yorker Jia Tolentino excellently explores the rise of the millennial and our cultural urge to criticize them. 


“The Making and Unmaking of Iggy Azalea”

Clover Hope, Jezebel

Iggy Azalea has had a tough couple of years. Once considered the next hot thing thanks to singles like “Fancy” and “Black Widow,” the Australian rapper found her career in a free fall as she made tone-deaf and ill-advised comments as a white woman in hip-hop. Talented culture writer Clover Hope outlines how Iggy brought upon her own downfall. 


“On Being Queer And Happily Single ― Except When I’m Not”

Brandon Taylor, Them

The new online magazine Them has offered up some of the best writing on LGBTQ identity this year. Brandon Taylor, a queer black writer, opens up about the tension of simultaneously wanting but also rejecting romance. “What I want is mostly to be alone,” Taylor writes. “And to not have to contextualize my loneliness in a way that makes other people comfortable with it.”


“How ‘The Beguiled’ Tackles Race Even When You Don’t See It”

Angelica Jade Bastién, Vulture

Sofia Coppola’s “The Beguiled” was one of the more divisive films of 2017. Set in the South during the Civil War, the film received some backlash for the conspicuous absence of black people and general avoidance of race. Afro-Latina critic Angelica Jade Bastién makes a compelling argument about the ways in which the movie unconsciously navigates whiteness and the legacy of slavery. “Blackness and racism in general can never be fully removed from stories set in the South,” Bastién writes, “even if black characters themselves are not present.” 


“The Year In Tension”

Tommy Pico, Hazlitt

This year-in-review piece by poet and writer Tommy Pico is a profound exploration of the anxieties, obsessions and, most of all, tension of 2017. “Day-to-day, I, a queer Native person leaping around this deeply stolen and homophobic land, try to lessen the ambient tensions floating in my air,” Pico explains. “Now I had to do the opposite.” 


“Cardi B Was Made To Be Famous”

Allison P. Davis, The Cut

Allison P. Davis adds to her excellent culture writing with this fun and perceptive profile of Cardi B, the breakout rapper of 2017. The piece is not only an excellent introduction to the “regular, degular, shmegular girl from the Bronx,” it’s also a sharp exploration of fame and celebrity in the age of social media and reality TV.


“Colin Kaepernick Has A Job”

Rembert Browne, Bleacher Report

Colin Kaepernick was one of the biggest newsmakers in 2017, sparking passionate support (and hate) after he decided to kneel during the national anthem at NFL games in protest of police brutality. Kaepernick’s protest led to him essentially losing his football career. Rembert Browne writes here about what Kaepernick’s journey says about America as a whole. 


“Dear  Men of ‘The Breakfast Club’: Trans Women Aren’t A Prop, Ploy, Or Sexual Predators”

Janet Mock, Allure

In July, activist and author Janet Mock was gracious enough to make an appearance on the popular “Breakfast Club” radio show to talk about her memoir, Surpassing Certainty. She was met with a barrage of tone-deaf and offensive questions about being a trans woman, which she handled with her usual poise. In this essay for Allure, Mock perfectly tears down the harmful, dangerous and ignorant rhetoric surrounding trans women that the hosts of the show perpetuated in a later interview with comedian Lil Duval.


“Understanding Mexican Nationalism And Mestizaje Through The Film ‘Coco’”

Eren Cervantes-Altamirano, Identity Crisis

“Coco” was one of the most popular animated films released in 2017, with the usual stellar work of Pixar Studios focused on a vibrant, heartbreaking story of a Mexican family. The movie was praised for its representation, but Latinx writer Eren Cervantes explains in this blog post that it also erases the indigenous of Mexico. 


“The Uncounted”

Azmat Khan and Anand Gopal, The New York Times Magazine

One of the most important reports published this year was this investigative piece by Azmat Khan and Anand Gopal, which outlines the horrifying death toll of Iraqi civilians in America’s fight against the self-described Islamic State. 


Ijeoma Oluo, The Stranger

This subtle yet searing profile of Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who made headlines in 2015 for claiming she was black, is the definitive last word on the entire Dolezal debacle. Nothing needs to be written or said about the woman ever again. Ijeoma Oluo crafts a fascinating portrait of Dolezal, ultimately revealing the “overwhelming whiteness” of appropriating blackness. 



Millions Of Kids Might Lose Health Care Because Congress Dropped The Ball

Parents are scared, state officials are scrambling and Congress is about to go on vacation.

Congress’ failure to renew a program that provides health care to low-income children by year’s end could cause almost 2 million kids to lose their coverage as soon as next month.

That’s according to a report published Wednesday by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. Federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which is jointly run and financed by the federal government and the states, expired nearly two months ago. The program covers about 9 million children in the U.S.

But the GOP-controlled Congress, which made time to pass a sweeping tax bill that largely benefits corporations and the rich, didn’t get around to reauthorizing CHIP ― and now millions of children are in jeopardy.

States are rapidly running out of money to pay these children’s medical bills, and several have started notifying parents that their kids’ health care is poised to disappear. At least 14 states plan to terminate CHIP by the end of January, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Andrew Montoya, 35, of Longmont, Colorado, got a letter from the state government last month notifying him that his three daughters ― Audrey, 8, Katrina, 5, and Scarlett, 3 ― might wind up uninsured because of Congress’ inaction.

“They need to stop playing politics with our kids,” said Montoya, an attorney at an organization that provides assistance to people with disabilities.

Montoya and his wife, Nicole, were both uninsured for most of their lives before the Affordable Care Act became law and they qualified for tax credits to reduce their monthly premiums. CHIP is called Child Health Plan Plus in Colorado.

“We qualify because my income working as an attorney for a nonprofit organization is not very high,” Montoya said.

He ran the numbers and discovered that adding his daughters to his health insurance policy would increase the cost by $450 to $650 a month, which he can’t afford on his salary. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) has asked the state legislature to fund CHIP until Congress acts.

We have panicked families just wondering what in the world they have as options.Cathy Caldwell, director of CHIP in Alabama

State officials are scrambling to figure out what to do, but are mostly powerless unless Congress does something. Twenty-five states are due to run out of money in January, and nine more during February, according to the Center for Children and Families. That puts health coverage for 1.9 million kids at risk next month and 2.9 million through February.

“We are in a terrible situation right now,” Linda Nablo, the chief deputy director of the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services, said during a conference call with reporters hosted by the Center for Children and Families. “We are certainly running numbers and trying to analyze options.”

“All this, of course, is being done as the holiday season approaches,” she said. “It’s left us in a terrible quandary. I’m not really sure what we’re going to say to parents or what the solution is going to be.”

Virginia will have to shut down CHIP, known in the state as Family Access to Medical Insurance Security, at some point next month because the program is very nearly out of money, Nablo said. “There’s no good options here.”

Virginia originally told parents that their kids’ CHIP benefits would be in place through the end of January. Congress enacted legislation last month allowing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to reallocate unspent CHIP money between the states ― but Virginia wound up on the losing end of the deal and has less funding than it expected, Nablo said.

Alabama already announced that it’s freezing enrollment in its CHIP, called Alabama ALL Kids, as of Jan. 1, and that the program will shut down completely at the end of next month. Connecticut also is freezing enrollment this Saturday and will close down CHIP, known there as the HUSKY Program, on Jan. 31.

“Our phones are ringing off the wall,” Cathy Caldwell, the director of the Alabama Bureau of Children’s Health Insurance Programs, said during the conference call. “We have panicked families just wondering what in the world they have as options, so it is very, very stressful here in Alabama.”

Virginia is urging parents to squeeze in whatever medical care they can before the coverage goes away, Nablo said.

“We suggested to families that if your children needed a doctor visit or a dental visit, they might want to arrange that in the month of January,” she said. “And we’re particularly concerned about families with children in the course of treatment or who are very, very sick, potentially even hospitalized.”

The situation differs among the states, depending on how they established their versions of CHIP.

States that created standalone children’s health programs are most at risk, because they don’t have the money themselves to keep them running and don’t have another way to cover those children, Joan Alker, executive director of the Center for Children and Families, told HuffPost.

Those states could change their Medicaid laws to allow those kids into that program instead, but that would take too long to prevent a lapse in coverage, Alker said. And while many of those children are in families that qualify for subsidized private insurance from the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges, those policies are costlier than CHIP and have more meager benefits, she said.

“There’s a few different ways children could end up going, all of them worse than where they currently are in CHIP,” Alker said.

States that set up CHIP as an offshoot of their Medicaid programs are in a different bind. Federal law requires those states to maintain coverage for children, so these states would have to move all their CHIP kids into Medicaid, Alker said. But the federal government pays a much larger share of CHIP expenses than it does for Medicaid, so states would have to somehow find new money, she said.

Republicans say they’ll act on CHIP when they return to Washington next month, which would be cutting it very close. And given the dysfunction seen in Congress this year, there’s reason to doubt Congress can pass a bill in time to save the states and the kids on CHIP.

There’s no actual dispute in Congress that CHIP should be reauthorized.

The House even passed a bill to do so last month. Democrats opposed the legislation in large part because it would fund the CHIP renewal by rolling back elements of the Affordable Care Act. That didn’t matter in the House, where Republicans have a large majority. But in the Senate ― where a CHIP bill made it through committee in October without including any means to pay for it ― reauthorizing the program would require 60 votes, and Republicans have just 52.

“This is a game of chicken,” said T.C. Bell, 30, who lives in Denver. “My kids are just being put in the middle of that.”

Bell is a full-time student with a very low income. He qualifies for Medicaid, known there as Health First Colorado. His daughters, 8-year-old Dagny and 5-year-old Emma, are covered by CHIP.

“I have no option. My income is so small, I can barely keep a roof over my family’s head,” Bell said. As a child, he lacked health insurance; he doesn’t want his daughters to have to scrounge for medical care, as his family did. “It’s kind of like going back to the shadows of health care.”




Trump Judicial Nominee Can't Answer Basic Questions About The Law In Disastrous Hearing

Trump Judicial Nominee Can't Answer Basic Questions About The Law In Disastrous Hearing

One of President Donald Trump’s nominees for a lifetime appointment as a U.S. district court judge struggled to answer basic questions about the law during a confirmation hearing on Thursday. 

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), had just five minutes to question the five Trump appointees. First, he asked if any of them had not tried a case to verdict in a courtroom. 

When Matthew Spencer Petersen, a nominee for U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, raised his hand, Kennedy focused mostly on him for the duration of his time.  

KENNEDY: Have you ever tried a jury trial? 

PETERSEN: I have not. 

KENNEDY: Civil? 


KENNEDY: Criminal? 


KENNEDY: Bench? 


KENNEDY: State or federal court? 

PETERSEN: I have not. 

It only got worse from there. 

Petersen, a commissioner on the Federal Election Commission who was appointed by President George W. Bush, had none of the experience typically expected of a federal judge, a fact that quickly became clear during the questioning. 

KENNEDY: As a trial judge, you’re obviously going to have witnesses. Can you tell me what the Daubert standard is? 

PETERSEN: Sen. Kennedy, I don’t have that readily at my disposal but I would be happy to take a closer look at that. That is not something I’ve had to contend with.  

KENNEDY: Do you know what a motion in limine is?

PETERSEN: Yes.. I haven’t, I’m, again, my background is not in litigation as when I was replying to Chairman (Chuck) Grassley (R-Iowa), I haven’t had to um, again, do a deep dive. 

Petersen then began ticking off his experience “in a decision-making role” at the FEC. Kennedy interrupted him:

KENNEDY: Yes, I’ve read your resume. Just for the record, do you know what a motion in limine is?

PETERSEN: I would probably not be able to give you a good definition right here at the table.

KENNEDY: Do you know what the Younger abstention doctrine is?

PETERSEN: Um, I’ve heard of it... but I, again.

KENNEDY: How about the Pullman abstention doctrine?

PETERSEN: I... I heard... 

KENNEDY: Y’all see that a lot in federal court. 

Prior to the hearing, Kennedy slammed some of Trump’s judicial nominees, saying the president was “getting some very, very bad advice.”

See the full exchange above. 



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